In a move that lifts a relatively small but reportedly annoying burden from the heads of a segment of the city's law enforcement community, D.C. policewomen have been freed of the need to wear the standard policeman's hat.
The police department began this week to issue a new hat, approved by women officers, to replace the traditional cap, to which many of the 295 women policemen had objected.
The familiar, low-crowned policeman's cap, with its stiff band and short bill, "never did fit," said Officer Dorothy L. Gaines, of the second district.
In particular, many women found the traditional cap especially unsuitable for wear with women's hair styles, and complained to the three-member police uniform board.
After submitting a selection of new styles to the policewomen for approval, the board adopted a new model, made of wool, with a high crown and flexible brim that folds up on the sides.
Describing herself as "very pleased" with the new model, Officer Gaines called it "comfortable and cute."
At the same time, the department is issuing its women officers a new tie that has been issued to officers of both sexes.
Perhaps half or two thirds as long as the traditional tie, the new one hangs from the throat in two sections of equal width.
The old one was undesirable because it was designed for a man, said Officer L. L. Lampert. "We're women," she said. "We don't like the men's hats or mens ties."
Still other changes that will further distinguish policewomens attire are expected, according to Thelma Darlington, president of Policewomen In Action, which represents the women officers.
She said the men's coats issued to the women for cool-weather wear are ill-fitting and will be replaced when funds are available. Improvements also may be made in the slacks issued to the women, Darlington said.
Current regulations call for officers to wear hats when on foot patrol, when coats are also worn, and to court and on special assignments.